Archive for March, 2010

Turtle’s Report

March 23, 2010

Antony Turtle Clark
Green Man Challenge Report – 6th March 2010

A minute to seven on Saturday morning and I got an unexpected phone call from the Gaveller.  I’m due to start the Green Man Challenge at 7am and he rang from the start line outside St Mary Magdelene Church on Mariners Walk to find out where I was.  I was putting on my shoes at home at the time but luckily live just round the corner and was able to trot over to the church in a couple of minutes.  It was nice of the Gaveller to come and see me off and even nicer of him to lend me his GPS watch to use during the day.  We waited for it to locate the satellites hovering over Bristol and, at 7:08am, I was off.

Waiting for Satellites

I was on my own for the first eight miles and gave the Green Man a friendly slap on the chops as I ran past, making good time up to Dundry across frost laden fields.  Fellow TACH runner Joe met me there and I dumped my gilet in the boot of his car before we headed off to Pensford together.  Joe was good company and it turns out he is keen to tackle the Green Man Challenge himself later in the year.

I was still ahead of schedule when we arrived at Pensford where we were met by Rob, Jo and baby Arthur.  They were in good form and Rob was looking forward to the Grizzly the following day.  Joe ran back to Dundry from here and I continued alone to Keynsham.  I started to get quite cold on this section and, although I was still well short of half way, I took a turn for the worse and started to feel sick.  I was running in base layer and club vest and seriously regretted leaving my gilet in Joe’s car at Dundry.  There was nothing I could do about it now but put on hat and gloves and push on as best I could.

Jan was waiting for me with Susie and Catie, our two year old twins, in a playground fifty yards off the route in Keynsham and seeing them lifted my spirits.  I picked up a spare waterproof jacket and more food and water and, after fifteen minutes being Dad, I was off again.  Jan reports that I had turned grey at this stage of the challenge and the photos she took of me show what looks like a zombie having an off day.

The sick chilled feeling in my gut didn’t improve over the next section and I was pleased to see the Gaveller waving from the top of a stile as I approached the Shortwood Hill checkpoint.  Libby was there too and after a quick hello, Gaveller and I were off.  The Gaveller was very understanding of my plight and attempted to take my mind off it with interesting conversation.  This kept veering back to chives which he pointed out were growing in abundance alongside the path (he later even munched on some).

I was still not great and had to do some walking but my mood improved at the next stop at Hambrook:

  • Jan was there with Susie and Catie and seeing them really cheered me up;
  • I dumped the 2 litre water bladder I had been carrying since the start and picked up a hand held 500ml bottle instead.  The bladder had fitted inside a large bumbag which was, with hindsight, probably a major contributor to my stomach ache.  As soon as I removed the heavy water bladder and was able to loosen the bumbag I felt instantly better.
  • I was now 30 miles into the route with only 15 to go.  I was nearly there really.

I was not much faster to Patchway where Jan and the twins were waiting again but felt much happier (all things considered).  The Gaveller was still with me (he ran with me 20 miles in total) but there was no sign of Luke who was due to meet me there.  I had talked with Luke a couple of times during the afternoon and he was having childcare issues so it was not entirely unexpected.  Anyway, the Gaveller and I decided not to wait for him and pushed on.

I felt great now (all things considered) and was able to speed up a bit.  Spanorium Hill rewarded the climb with great views of the Severn bridges from the top.  Still no sign of Luke and a phone call from him reveals that he’s taken an unplanned detour to Cribbs Causeway.  I hand the phone to the Gaveller who directs him back on track.

I was still having lots of fun (all things considered) and we don’t wait for Jan at Blaise Castle – she’s only a few minutes away as we cross the car park but we only have three miles to go and I’m keen to finish.

As we run along Kings Weston Hill we learn that Luke is two minutes behind and it takes our mind off the running as Gaveller and I speculate about when he’s going to catch us up.  We keep looking behind us as we run down the side of Shirehampton Park Golf Club but there’s no sign of him.  As we cross Sylvian Way he suddenly appears beside us as if by magic!  He saw us running down the golf course and decided to shoot down the road that runs parallel to it to make up time.  It’s great to have him along and I almost forget that I’m a tad pooped in all the excitement.

Before you know it Gaveller, Luke and I are on Mariners Walk and back at the start.  It’s great to be welcomed by my family and good friends: Jan and the twins; Libby; Joe and Claire as well as Mark Vogan (Woodwose 2) and Sarah who happened to be in Bristol this weekend.  Mark and I are running the Highlander Mountain Marathon together next month and this has been a useful bit of training for that.

Many thanks to everyone who supported me, especially Jan for being so understanding about it all the training and the boring conversations about route and to the Gaveller who saw me through the worst of times.  Thanks also to the people who very kindly offered their help the previous weekend when I had originally planned to run it.  I postponed it at the last minute due to a cold and ended up running it on Grizzly weekend when lots of people were away.

Total distance covered was 45.18 miles in a time of 10hrs 31mins.  Maybe one day I’ll run it again but without the chills, sickness and blistered toes.  I’m nearly looking forward to it already.  Just don’t tell Jan.

John Reynolds’ Run

March 20, 2010

The day had finally come to run the Green Man Challenge, over the previous Sundays I had run the eight sections, sometimes two at a time running them both ways to get familiar with the route and make it easier to concentrate on my running for the challenge.

Sunday 14th March was a white frosty morning, but the sun was starting to come out to produce what was to be a perfect day for the challenge, sunny and clear but at the same time there was a cool breeze to keep the temperature down.

After leaving Chris (Woodwose five) who had kindly come out to see us off at the start next to the Green man at the top of Ashton Court, I was on my way with Richard Pontin – my first support runner.

Wearing shorts & short sleeved running top, I knew that I would quickly warm up, especially as I was carrying eight bottles of drink,cakes and chocolate bars along with a spare top & bottom in case the weather changed. If I needed anything else, I had my mobile phone handy to ring other support runners.

I carried my own gear through five sections as I am in training for a long run in May. The run up to Dundry went really well with no navigational difficulties and clear route description.

Joining Kevin Wheeler my second support runner at Dundry car park we started the second section, soon to be on the decent towards Pensford. The views were stunning and really enjoyable as we looked down through the sun kissed valleys that led to the viaduct. I found that a lot of the fields were now a lot drier than when I had previously ran them.

Joining Tracey Bryant, my third pacer, at the Old Lock Up and leaving the others we made our way past the picturesque Publow Church and Compton Dando while following the pleasant River Chew on into Keynsham. Again the route description being very accurate.

Along the way I kept myself topped up with glucose / water drinks with snack bars at regular intervals to keep the energy levels maintained.

Leaving Tracey at the Lock keeper in Keynsham, I was joined by Pat Challis for leg four.  I felt comfortable and was slightly ahead of my target time. The route had gone well without any misnavigation and the fine weather was a real boost to morale. Warmley Forest Park was soggy underfoot but this soon dried out as we climbed up to Shortwood Hill.

We made good time past the old Colliery at Coxgrove Hill and its old disused shaft many fields further on. I found the Westerleigh road very busy and had to be very vigilant on the traffic before crossing as it is a paticularly fast section of road with limited views.

The Frome walkway with Winterbourne Viaduct in the background was a really scenic distraction as we made our way to the White Horse in Hambrook.

Trying to ignore the fabulous smells of the roast dinners being served up in the White Horse, I made do with some chocolate bars and headed into leg six with Jane Whittaker for the more urban sections of Stoke Gifford and Bradley Stoke. Following the route description proved essential and was really good at guiding us through the different paths and side streets. Patchway Community College soon appeared and I felt a lot more confident as we now had only two more sections to go.

Joining Bob Powell and Ian Carpenter for legs seven and eight, I had been running well through the last reasonably flat sections, but Spaniorum Hill suddenly felt like a mountain. Topping up on the energy levels, the rest of the run into Blaise car park was reasonably straight forward.

Passing through the crowds that were enjoying the best of the fine weather we made our way up the climb to the top of Kingsweston Ridge and on until we crossed the interesting little iron bridge that leads towards Shirehampton golf course.

Having strolled half of Spaniorum hill previously, I was determined not to let the climb up to the Downs beat me and with gritted teeth and under the breath cursing, I ran( trotted) the never ending path to the top. Once on the Downs the relieved legs sped up a little. On then, we passed the Peregrine viewpoint, past the Observatory and finally onto the Suspension Bridge with its magnificent views down the Avon Gorge. Resisting the urge to carry straight on, we did the long way round North Road by Leigh Woods and the mountain bike track back in, to be reunited, after a surprise sprint finish, with the Green Man.

Looking over Long Ashton and up to the top of Dundry where I could clearly see the church, I remembered how we had set off 10 hours, 4 minutes previously and according to my Garmin covered 45.42 miles.

See for print out.

Many thanks to Richard, Kevin, Tracey, Pat, Jane, Bob and Ian that completed the Challenge with me and to Chris for his support at the start and for making this Challenge possible.

Two New Woodwoses

March 17, 2010

We are still awaiting reports from the two latest Woodwoses, Woodwose XVI Antony “Turtle” Clark and Woodwose XVII John Reynolds.

TACH member, Turtle, completed the Green Man Challenge on Saturday 6th March in 10 hours 31 minutes. Fundraiser, John, finished in 10 hours 4 minutes on Mothering Sunday 14th March.

Turtle’s support team  (wife Jan and twin daughters, Susie and Katie, Joe and Claire Scaife and Chris and Libby Bloor) was a bit thinner on the ground than it would have been if he hadn’t had to delay his attempt to the Grizzly weekend.

John’s support team of Mendip Hashers (names among the details to follow) have pointed out that they have in effect completed the challenge as a relay team and wonder whether this deserves recognition. I should think it does, but how? Some clarification is called for.

News Release – Signs of Spring

March 3, 2010

As the Equinox approaches, the rising sap is summoning up a new crop of “Woodwoses” alongside the snowdrops and crocuses.

These shy creatures, also known as Pelosi or Wildmen, are drawn to liminal areas that mark the boundary between civilisation and wilderness. Increasing numbers of them are being attracted to the 45-mile long Community Forest Path that runs through the Green Belt around Bristol. They are difficult to spot, but they can sometimes be seen around dawn and dusk in a grove of oak trees surrounding the stone Green Man’s head in the deer park near the Clifton Gateway to the Ashton Court Estate.

“Woodwoses” (from the Anglo-Saxon wuduwasa) can be mistaken for ordinary men and women, but their true nature becomes apparent when they complete the 45-mile circuit of Bristol between dawn and dusk. 16 Woodwoses have been identified so far, including internationally renown, Bristol artist, Richard Long, who completed the circuit in 1998. But the current crop of sightings began when Chris Smart of Long Ashton completed a circuit in September 2007. This began a flurry of sightings including Martin Beale and Martin Indge of Team Vasque, who completed a circuit in an incredible 7 hours, 19 minutes and 52 seconds in May 2009.

Predicted sightings

Three of the more solitary type of Woodwose are predicted to appear at the Green Man’s head during March. The first is expected to pass the Green Man around 7-40am on Saturday 6th. The second will set out on Sunday 14th with pacemakers at 7am. The third, a contrary specimen, may not emerge until dusk on Saturday 20th, which is the official date of the Spring Equinox.

The Equinox has also attracted a batch of younger Woodwoses, who tend to be more sociable. They intend to set out at from the Green Man’s head at 7am on the 20th and finish at exactly 5-32 pm, which is the precise time of the Equinox according to authoritative sources. It is rumoured that appropriate, but novel pagan rites will occur to celebrate this moment.